community initiatives


by Nic Wells

After his first wife died in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson secretly courted Edith Bolling Galt on regular strolls with her in Rock Creek Park. In 2008, police discovered a man from Chevy Chase growing marijuana in the Park, and in March 2013, someone sacrificed a goat and chickens in a part of the Park near Piney Branch Parkway.

These three dissimilar events share one common feature:  Rock Creek Park.

While such anecdotes may or may not be good conversation starters, stories that impress, they are indicative of what geographers call a sense of place, a combination of experiences and certain attributes that makes a place distinctive. Without a doubt, Washingtonians have that sense of place with Rock Creek Park.

Because Rock Creek Park includes the main stem and many diverse units scattered throughout neighborhoods in Northwest and Northeast,  Rock Creek Conservancy’s community engagement meetings this summer and fall seek to explore and understand locals’ senses of place of the Park.

We’ve held two meetings so far – one in Mt. Pleasant, the other in Chevy Chase. The turnouts at both were fantastic, with people asking questions and chatting about the Park over coffee, tea and delicious treats provided by local businesses. If you happened to miss these, there will be more community meetings in September and October, so stay tuned! Until then, explore the Park and develop your sense of place of place in Rock Creek Park like the charmer, the stoner and the butcher did, but unlike them, please keep it PG.

You also might want to check out a recent issue the Washington Post Magazine, which featured a great cover story about Rock Creek Park. Give it a read, and then get yourself to the Park!

Nic Wells, a McLean native, interns for Rock Creek Conservancy, part of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, and studies Geography and Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

logogreenwheatonJoin Bethesda Green and other supporters of GreenWheaton at their 3rd Annual Gala, Wednesday, June 25, 6 – 9 pm, Ballroom at Wheaton Glen above the Wheaton Fire and Rescue Squad located at 2400 Arcola Avenue, Wheaton, MD.

The Gala, sponsored in part by Safeway, IHop Restaurant, The George Apartments and M&T Bank, celebrates the organization’s successes in three years of non-profit educational work and green initiatives in the Wheaton community, and serves as a fundraiser for continuing efforts into the future.

For the first time, the 2014 Gala will feature an awards ceremony recognizing a local group or citizen for its green efforts in the Wheaton community. The 2014 winner of the GreenWheaton “Green Community Award” will be Northwood High School’s Academy of Technology and Environmental Systems Sciences in recognition of its efforts to promote a “walkable” Wheaton.  GreenWheaton will also present a donation to Wheaton for the purchase of an additional Big Belly solar powered waste recycling station (bringing the number to 18 coming to Wheaton in June).  This will be largest installation of Big Belly units in Montgomery County.

Also featured will be local green vendors, door prizes, local wine, beer and food from Wheaton favorites Hollywood East Cafe, Limerick Pub, Green Plate Catering, and Los Chorros.

For tickets, please visit greenwheatongala2014.eventbrite.com. Use the promo code: GReen for a special discount.

Over the past year, GreenWheaton has provided seminars on “greening” for both residents and businesses, coordinated monthly green drinks happy hours, and put out a monthly informational e-newsletter. The organization has coordinated several recycling events, including two paper shredding and electronics recycling events at Signal Financial Credit Union.

Recently, the group  held its first coordinated event with Bethesda Green and Silver Spring Green, a two-hour expert panel discussion on “Demystifying Clean Green Energy,” attended by over 80 people.

RCC logoby Nic Wells

I wouldn’t consider driving a pastime. Driving drains me, and radio stations never seem to live up to their “no commercial” arrangements. Driving doesn’t do Mother Nature any favors, either. But, as I drove through Northwest DC to get to work this morning, I rolled down my windows and, quite frankly, enjoyed my ride for once.

I cruised down streets filled with shades of green, so many that even Crayola’s 96 Crayons cartons couldn’t compare. I know I’m not the only one who is impressed. National Geographic’s  “Nine Cities That Love Their Trees” recognizes the District’s 36% tree cover – much of which belongs to our very own national park, Rock Creek Park, and its constituent parks scattered throughout the city.

Now, you don’t have to be a treehugger to appreciate what Rock Creek Park has to offer. Its trees provide shade that is desperately sought by profusely sweaty people like myself on those humid summer days. Civil War buffs can troop through Fort Stevens and Fort DeRussy to trace the footsteps of long-gone soldiers.  Whatever your reason for visiting, you are guaranteed to find something of interest in Rock Creek Park.

Unfortunately, Rock Creek Park is not as lucky as its visitors. In recent years, its natural and cultural resources have taken a beating. Non-native invasive species like English ivy threaten the ecosystem’s fragile balance, and historical landmarks and access routes have deteriorated. Luckily, Rock Creek Conservancy  is working to change this.

With the 125th anniversary of the park approaching in 2015, Rock Creek Conservancy is developing exciting yearlong plans to celebrate the occasion, some of which include engaging with neighbors in local communities that use the Park and its resources. Rock Creek Conservancy will host two Saturday morning meetings: one on June 21 in the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and the other on June 28 in the Chevy Chase Library from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

The meetings will include four “topic tables” relating to Access, Historic Buildings & Designed Landscapes and Civil War Defenses, Programming and Recreation, and the Environment. The meetings will provide platforms for local residents to offer ideas and are designed to give residents the opportunity to play a vital role in the Park’s future.

If you’re allergic to driving like I am, these meetings can help secure a future with scenic drives through Northwest DC. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Nic Wells, a McLean native, interns for Rock Creek Conservancy, part of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, and studies Geography and Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

BGnews_logoTurf Management Goes Green

The Kentlands community in Gaithersburg is moving toward organic landscaping, an effort to reduce chemical application options and provide a healthy environment for pets and children.

Kentlands is consulting with Paul Tukey, an organic landscaping expert, who envisions maintaining at least 50 percent of the landscape organically by 2015.

Roger Ford, a member of the Kentlands group that is overseeing the project, said, “If [Tukey] does it right, I think it’s going to be a showcase for Montgomery County and beyond.”

For more details, see article in The Town Courier.

Going Green on your way to College

Go Green without breaking your bank! Here are some tips to go green and save money for the school year.

  • Re-use textbooks — Re-using textbooks is a great way to save paper and it also reduces the amount of junk we have to dispose later on. Some websites such as SwapTree.com, PaperBackSwap.com, and Bookins.com let you swap books with others.
  • Do your laundry in cold water — In the warm seasons, you can save tons of energy by washing clothes in cold water. By washing clothes in cold water, you decrease your electricity usage which is required to heat the water. This reduces your overall carbon footprint.
  • Recycle your cell phones — Instead of discarding your old phones in favor of a new and updated one, recycle your phones because certain small parts of the phones can be used for other items.
  • Shop at thrift shops — You can find just about any item in a thrift store and they are usually extremely cheap. Also instead of throwing away your clothes, think about donating them to a thrift store so other people can enjoy it for a much cheaper price.
  • Keep indoor plants — Keep a small plant inside your house near a window. It is an efficient way to release more oxygen into the air, therefore purifying it. Perfect for your health and environment.
  • Go to the farmers market — Make sure you go to the farmers market or any local market! It is a great place to get fresh and good quality food. It also promotes local farmers and produce.

To find out about more tips, check out this article.

Debating Metro fare increases

In setting fares for the Metro public transportation system, the Metro board attempts to balance the the goal of providing the best possible service on it trains, buses, and vans for their riders and how to minimize the impact of fare increases on its customers, especially among those who are financially vulnerable and depend on public transportation.

A recent Dr. Gridlock column in the Washington Post helps frame the debate and concludes that it’s not solely the job of the Metro board to reconcile the issue:

“Helping other people get around is the right thing to do, whether it involves aiding a rider on a platform or assisting the needy in covering their transit costs. The benefits bounce back. Ensuring that people can get to their jobs and medical appointments boosts the economy and enhances the general welfare. That’s a task for the entire region — its governments, social service agencies and individuals. The transit authority can’t fine-tune its fares well enough to achieve this goal.”

Events

  • Environmental Film Festival — March 18-30, at numerous DC-area venues. The theme of the 2014 Festival — Our Cities, Our Planet — will examine the challenges posed by Earth’s urban environments and the efforts of the world’s cities to balance environmental and economic needs.
  • Montgomery County Business Recycling Seminar — Thursday, March 27, 9 am – noon, Silver Spring Civic Center. Meet county staff and get all your recycling questions answered.
  • Wheaton Green Drinks — Thursday, March 27, 5-8 pm at Limerick Pub.
  • Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup — Saturday, April 5, 9 am – noon. Join Rock Creek Conservancy for its 6th annual volunteer cleanup event.

 

BGnews_logo

World’s Largest Urban Greenhouse

Giant Food Stores signed a deal with BrightFarms to build the world’s largest urban greenhouse, expected to open this fall.  At 100,000 square feet, the greenhouse aims to deliver 1 million pounds of fresh produce throughout the year to about 30 Giant supermarkets in the Washington, DC,  metro area. Plans also include making the greenhouse available to schools as an educational tool on urban agriculture and sustainability.

In addition to building greenhouses attached to supermarkets, BrightFarms designs rooftop farms and is working on projects in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and St. Paul.

To read more, check out this article.

New Bike Lanes

As Bethesda proceeds through a new sector plan for future development, interested parties may want to take note of Alexandria’s plan to add new bike lanes. The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously recently to create bike lanes on a span of King Street from Janneys Lane to West Cedar Street, one of Alexandria’s busiest streets.  Many Alexandria residents objected to this plan, however, because it will cause the removal of more than two dozen parking spots and add to congestion. Those in favor of the bike lanes argue that more and more people are using bikes for commuting so creating a safe way for them is key to cities like Alexandria.

Ultimately, the bike lanes proposal was approved with the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. Bicyclists will share the traffic lanes with motorized vehicles in the areas where parking is still allowed. New crosswalks and electronic speed indicators will also be installed for the safety pedestrians and bicyclists.

To find out more information, check out the Washington Post.

Events

  • Maryland Day, a weekend celebration of all things Maryland, March 21-23, explores historic sites, cultural activities, and natural resources around Annapolis. See the Annapolis Green Growing a Little Greener webpage for more details.
  • H2O SummitMarch 22, 9:30 am – 4 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD. Topics covered include: What is Stormwater and How Can You Help Prevent Pollution? and Volunteerism & Community Efforts to Improve the Environment. The morning session (9:30 to 1:00 pm) will have speakers and workshops. Attendance is limited, so register in advance. The afternoon session will be a Family H2O Fair hosted by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and will include kid’s crafts and environmental demos for families. An assortment of water related exhibitors will also be on hand located in the Great Hall. Registration is not required for the afternoon session.

9060_10201149485282718_98025547_n“Incredible paddling action. An epic celebration of the Nation’s river.” This Saturday and Sunday, the 2013 Potomac River Fest kicks off just a few miles outside our nation’s capital. The country’s best kayakers will face off in an epic race down the Potomac River, a fast-paced, breathtaking event with kayakers traveling 60 vertical feet through the River’s class V+ Great Falls. The 26th Annual Race is an opportunity to celebrate and promote the Potomac River, the sport of kayaking, and the large and diverse community of river stewards who work and play on the Nation’s river.

The Potomac River Fest is the product of Active Nature and its work with the local paddling community. Founder and President Jason Beakes, born and raised in the DC area, is a world-class athlete, Olympian, and local and national hero. A member of the US Kayak Team for 8 years, Vice President of the Board of Team River Runner, ambassador through sport to China… Jason’s work in the paddling community over the past 20 years has inspired and motivated thousands.

Active Nature is devoted to giving back – community service and environmental sustainability are core values of the Active Nature team. They work to provide access to the outdoors to members of underserved communities, work with Team River Runner to provide health, healing, and challenges to active service members, and partner with the US National Park Service to advocate on behalf of the public lands we all love.

Mark Leisher Productions is proud to be a sponsor of the Potomac River Festival 2013. The MLP crew will be at the event Saturday and Sunday, manning our table, handing out giveaways, and filming the action. Mark Leisher’s background includes working with kayakers all over the world – while other people take it easy on the weekends, we spend some of ours on the water, filming and participating in the action! We hope to see as many of you there as possible, enjoying the beautiful weather and the breathtaking sportsmanship on display. You can purchase tickets through Active Nature.

Susanna Parker is a volunteer with Bethesda Green, and social media manager for Mark Leisher Productions. 

Whole Foods logoPlanning to do some food shopping for the July 4th holiday?

Be sure to stop by Tuesday, July 2 at the Whole Foods Market on River Road in Bethesda.  The store is donating 5 percent of that day’s sales to Bethesda Green.

Also, be sure to stop by and say hello.  Bethesda Green will be staffing an information table at the store throughout the day and may be helping out with bagging your groceries.

We thank Whole Foods Market for their support.

Shop Whole Foods Market Bethesda on Tuesday, July 2.  The store is located at 5269 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20816.

 

Next Page »